10 practices to adopt for a successful Marketplace project
In February 2016, the company Best Buy in the United States suddenly announced that it was closing its marketplace launched five years earlier. The move comes as marketplaces around the world are growing exponentially, accounting for 37% of total online transactions.
To successfully launch and operate a marketplace, it is essential to plan your project, have a solid strategic vision and be fully committed to its realization. Here are the ten best practices to adopt for success.
1. Enlist enough salespeople
To ensure product availability and the widest possible choice at all times, you need to accommodate a wide variety of sellers in your marketplace. Competition will thus naturally guarantee competitive prices and excellent quality of service to buyers.
It’s never too early to start proactively recruiting salespeople. The best is to explore the existing marketplaces because the sellers present already adhere to the concept and are therefore easier to convince.
Conversely, you can attract these sellers to your marketplace by making the registration and operational processes as easy as possible. This means automating actions, choosing easy-to-use tools, and making sure salespeople are given all the help they need.
2. Target the right sellers
Potential sellers are not necessarily voluntary or do not all have the appropriate internal structure to sell their products on a marketplace. It is therefore preferable to make sure of the will and the capacity of the salesman before mobilizing the necessary resources to train and integrate him. Targeting traditional suppliers or manufacturers is not necessarily the best approach.
Customer ratings and reviews are an easy-to-access source of information on the service history of sellers on other marketplaces. Use this information to target your potential partners. Likewise, look for sellers for whom your marketplace is of strategic interest from the start and is not just one option among many. The more important it is to them, the better they will exploit it.
3. Track seller performance
You now know that sellers are one of the pillars of a marketplace. Managing and monitoring the quality of service they deliver to customers is essential to preserve your brand image and ensure the success of your marketplace.
So you have to apply very high standards, and automatically deactivate a seller’s account if their rating drops below a certain level or if their response rate is too low.
Automating this feature is the only way to grow your marketplace, and it will instill confidence in both consumers and good sellers.
Reliable sellers are a highly coveted resource. This is why successful marketplace operators value their sellers and ensure that they feel valued.
4. Integrate the marketplace into your existing e -‐ commerce site
Separating your e ‐ commerce site from your marketplace defeats the intended purpose. The marketplace must be a natural extension of your brand universe. The continuity it generates is essential to ensure the sale of the products constituting your basic offer, which your marketplace complements.
Splitting your website decreases its traffic and attractiveness, degrades its position in the ranking of search results and weakens your chances of attracting sellers to your marketplace. Not only do you not take advantage of existing traffic, but you risk degrading the quality of service offered to the customer. Also, with multiple portals, you have to bear additional costs of promoting your brand and products.
5. Stay true to your brand’s DNA
The marketplace allows your business to think bigger and considerably expand its offer. But it must also forge and strengthen your identity in a product universe and not dilute it there.
Although it can be one of the pillars of your economic model, the marketplace is supposed to improve your credibility in this universe and not create it in another. You should always either deepen or broaden your offer, but in both cases build on what already exists.
6. Earn trust through transparency
As a marketplace operator, you are the consumers’ trusted third party and must be worthy of that trust by selecting the appropriate sellers.
Consumers place a lot of importance on transparency when shopping. They know the marketplaces and trust your brand. It would therefore be absurd to try to conceal the involvement of a third party from them.
By clearly displaying who the seller is, you also clearly indicate who is responsible for any after-sales service. With a CRM tool integrated into your marketplace, sellers and consumers dialogue directly, but it is you who keep control of the customer relationship.
7. Ensure the quality of product information
Building a marketplace is difficult, but the result should be as easy as possible for the consumer. Beyond vendor transparency, you need to ensure that product data is complete and consistent.
Consumers already know your product categories, but you need to make sure that all product data from your sellers fits this classification and that each new listing meets your criteria. Doing it yourself is not possible on a large scale, so providing vendors with the right tools to ensure data quality is necessary. Consistency is essential to maintain customer confidence and guarantee them an optimal shopping experience.
8. Automate processes
Manual processes are a brake on the efficiency and profitability of a marketplace. They increase the risk of error exponentially, degrade the customer experience and increase costs.
The only way to ensure a seamless sales experience across channels is to automate data transfers. In addition, automation speeds up the onboarding and management process for sellers, reduces their costs and makes your marketplace more attractive to them.
9. Involve all stakeholders in the company
Opening a marketplace concerns the whole company. Although it is easy to launch and operate a marketplace by having carefully planned and prepared its project, all stakeholders must combine their efforts to ensure its success.
To integrate the marketplace into your existing sales channels, Marketing, IT, Customer support, Operations and everyone else needs to know the marketplace’s goals and comply with them. The creation of a marketplace does not tolerate operating in silos.
10. Invest in traffic
The famous diagram drawn by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, shows how important it is to invest in traffic generation. With more e-commerce sites than ever before, you need to be confident that consumers are aware of your marketplace.
Because they offer a wider choice of products, marketplaces naturally attract more visitors, which means more traffic, but SEO and SEM tools can dramatically accelerate their growth.
It goes without saying that a platform designed specifically for marketplaces will help you avoid the most common mistakes by providing you with the right tools and processes.
Adrien Nussenbaum is the CEO and co-founder of Mirakl, a publisher of software solutions for marketplaces. A graduate of HEC Paris, Adrien Nussenbaum began his career at PARIBAS Investissement in Hong Kong before co-founding ALL INSTANT in New York, an instant messaging solution sold in 2003. He then joined the restructuring department of DELOITTE until 2005 , where, as a consultant, he supports numerous companies in transforming their model and their organization. In 2005, Adrien and Philippe Corrot joined forces to found SPLITGAMES a marketplace dedicated to the world of video games. In 2008, Adrien Nussenbaum and Philippe Corrot supervised the design of the FNAC marketplace, before co-founding Mirakl in 2012.